POWERLINK: IEC 61499-compliant high-precision control in smart grid applications

Tomorrow's energy supply: POWERLINK in an IEC 61499-compliant smart grid application (PresseBox) (Eggelsberg, ) The Energy Department at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology is hard at work developing solutions for the energy supply of tomorrow. This work includes designing automation concepts for distributing power intelligently in so-called smart grids so that renewable forms of energy can be deployed on a massive scale.

Because this involves the integration of distributed systems with a heterogeneous hardware structure, strategies for deploying ICT-based energy systems more often than not recommend adopting the IEC 61499 international standard. By creating the framework for hardware-independent, portable control applications, it defines a universally valid model for implementing distributed control systems. Originally derived from IEC 61131, the new standard replaces the original cyclic model with an event-driven model that employs an object-oriented approach using function blocks.

Free from the restraints of rigid topologies, capable of direct cross-communication and open source availability - all of these things make POWERLINK the ideal solution for communicating with remote input and output devices in decentralized architectures. Its integration into the open, IEC 61499-compliant 4DIAC control system at AIT was simple. All Filip Andrén and Thomas Strasser had to do was introduce object classes for the master and slave nodes as well as for the necessary conversions between time- and event-dependent sequences.

This integrated solution is already being used in an environment designed at AIT by a project team consisting of the two researchers and Christian Landsteiner for testing and validating smart grid automation, control and communication concepts. Using service interface function blocks for POWERLINK communication in accordance with IEC 61499 allows the solution to be adapted to various hardware quickly and easily without needing to modify the software itself.

The Ethernet POWERLINK Standardization Group (EPSG) is an independent organization founded in 2003 by leading companies from the drive and automation industry. Its aims are the standardization and further development of POWERLINK, which was first introduced by B&R in 2001. The high-performance real-time communication system is a solution based on the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard, designed to ensure real-time data transfer on the microsecond level. EPSG cooperates with leading standardization organizations, such as CAN in Automation (CiA) and the IEC. Anton Meindl, BU Manager Controls at B&R, is the EPSG's CEO.

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